Archive for March, 2017

The History of Women and Us

3 comments Written on March 15th, 2017     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Catherine Gilliard is co-senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a consultant to churches and a mentor of pastors in the areas of justice, Christian communinty development and facilitating communal conversations on difficult topics. She also serves as Executive Director of the New Life S.A.Y. Yes! Center, an after-school ministry to students K5 through adults in the English Avenue/Vine City communities in Atlanta.

IMG_0234For the past 2000 years, women have been buried deep within scripture, waiting to be lifted and acknowledged for the faithful ways they have been used by God. For over 100 years Women Ministries has been advancing God’s kingdom through ministries that equip women to grow, serve and reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the past 40 years, the Covenant has been ordaining women in ministry, sending them to local congregations which are being spiritually formed by their leadership and witness. For the past 30 years, during the month of March, our nation has celebrated women’s contributions to history, culture and society. For the past 11 years, Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) has been an awarding association highlighting ministries led by women, women in seminary and men who advocate for women in ministry. For the past two years, the Biblical Gender Equality Commission has focused on Project Deborah, a vehicle which asks pastors of local congregations to recognize, encourage and advocate for women leaders to serve in all areas of ministry.

​But after all is said and done, why is it still necessary to advocate for and with women?

Research continues to show that teams with an equal gender mix perform better than male dominated teams in terms of sales and profits, are more generous and egalitarian, build meaningful relationships and create successful work processes.1 Yet in America women only hold 33% of senior management roles while composing 48% of all jobs in the United States. Women hold 20 or 4% of the CEO positions at the S&P 500 companies.2

The numbers inside the church for women leaders continues to grow, but churches manifest the same struggles for women that corporations are facing. According to the Barna Group, there is a pay gap between male and female pastors even though seventy-five percent of female pastors have their seminary degrees as compared to sixty-three percent of their male counterparts. The recent Covenant Quarterly highlighted the Covenant’s forty year journey of credentialing women – http://www.covquarterly.com/index.php/CQ.

Within the Covenant, we have three voices specifically speaking to the church about the call and gifting of women. Women Ministries, Advocates for Covenant Clergy Women (ACCW) and the Biblical Gender Equality Commission. Each have distinct roles, each have different responsibilities and each speak with one voice of our need as a church family to be open to recognizing, affirming, equipping, encouraging, inspiring and caring for young girls and women to lead in God’s kingdom.

To be an advocate means to publicly support, publicly recommend and publicly defend the work, rights and cause of someone you are willing to walk alongside of. Advocacy is not something done behind closed doors, advocacy is impossible if you remain silent and advocacy by definition is not possible without being present in the struggle.

The girls and women in our lives who long to be obedient to God’s call continue to struggle with women and men who are resistant to the wide genre and roles God has prepared for specifically for them. These positions are their ministries in the church, community, government, home and workforce. As women continue to resist society’s attempts to define limits to their identity, roles, positions and ministries, I wonder, during Women History Month in 2017, what does advocacy truly look like for you today?

1 Sandra Hoogendoorn, Hessel Oosterbeek, Mirjam van Praag; The Impact of Gender Diversity on the Performance of Business Teams: Evidence from a Field Experiment, Harvard Kennedy School, Women and Public Policy Program.
2 Catalyst, Statistical Overview of Women in the Workforce, April 6, 2016

 

 

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